Thursday, April 28, 2011

And so it begins...

I thought maybe we should take on one more project this spring/summer (cause, you know, I'm really not busy enough).

Oh, and also this past Tuesday I decided it would be the perfect day to take on the kitchen.


K I T C H E N.

With capital letters and spaces in between to show you how serious I am.

It might have started when we visited our friends Will and Sonya over the weekend, and they had their kitchen torn apart and almost put back together again, and it looked so sweet!

Also, last week I was showing a coworker photos of my house and when I got to the kitchen I was like "oh, this place is a mess!" and she was like "yeah, but you probably already took out that wallpaper and cleaned it up, right?" and I was like "no! not yet!" and then my internal renovation clock kicked in until I COULD NOT WAIT ANOTHER SECOND TO TEAR DOWN THE WALLPAPER.

before in all its unadulterated glory

I am starting small. This corner of the kitchen is especially annoying to me. It's dark. And the trim is painted Circa 1986 Country Blue, with Circa 1986 Country Blue ditzy wallpaper. It is quite dark.

The lucky thing is that the wallpaper is isolated to this side of the wall. So this is a good project that hopefully won't take much time and will probably cost nothing, because I'm assuming I have enough leftover paint somewhere.


So far I have primed and painted the doors and surrounding woodwork (there is another door, hidden to the right of the basement door). And I have stripped the wallpaper off.

Of course, any more substantial version of renovation in the kitchen will be a long, loooong way off. But I'm slowly starting to think about it in a more serious way. I want to do everything smart and cheap and quick - but I know in actuality a kitchen renovation usually ends up being annoying and expensive and slow.

Monday, April 25, 2011

To tree or not to tree

I have to preface this with a disclaimer.

I love trees.

In fact, one of the reasons we moved to this town was its prevalence of trees. I love that our backyard is shady and I love that there are so many squirrels and birds that make our trees their homes. I don't mind all the leaves we have to clean up in the fall, because it's a small price to pay for living in a wooded paradise the rest of the year.


We had a couple of doozies in our front yard:
That center tree was in bloom last week.

360 days a year it is a scraggly mess and for a handful of days a year it has these precious little white flowers.
But like I said, the blooms only last a few days. The tree was never pruned or trained, or whatever it is that they do, so there are branches coming out all over the place. The general shape of the tree is as tall as the house, but not rounded or lush.

The second tree in question is the gigantic looming hemlock on the right side of the house:
You can't tell in the photo, but it is actually leaning (away from the house, but still). About halfway up the tree branches out into two gigantic branches. So it's like a Siamese twin effect. Also half the branches were cut off, making it top-heavy.

It drops tiny needles all year round. The acid from the needles makes it difficult to grow grass under the tree.

I pondered these two trees for a while. Then my aunt and uncle came over for a visit last summer. My uncle is very horticultural. I'm not even sure if that is a word - but he spends a LOT of his free time in his garden and yard. He has a million trees. Not literally. But there is an area of his yard we always called "the woods" growing up. I asked him if there was anything worth saving with these two trees. He didn't even hesitate to say no.

So here we are months later...





Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If ever there was a case for painting the woodwork...


Seriously. This place is starting to look like something.

Just to remind you where we came from:


We still need to finish the stairs...

This was really tedious to paint...

Because of its placement at the middle the house, both the living room and staircase have a tendency to stay dark all day. Painting the woodwork really brightened the whole room:

Side note: I really like that, even though there is still work to be done on the stairs, they aren't visible when I'm lounging on the couch - and that speaks volumes to my OCD. Now for a new lamp, new console table, new rug, new couch...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A curtain story

So I was able to finally psych myself up to work on the DRCS (or Dining Room Curtain Situation for those of you who are not in my head). I took my chances and decided I wanted to make my own curtains, since I wasn't seeing anything I truly loved in the market.

I went to this place a couple of towns over - the Fabric Warehouse, in Belleville, NJ. If you don't mind the shady industrial back alley, or the non-existent parking lot, or the unmarked front door, it is basically the MOTHERLOAD of fabric remnants and bargains. To be completely honest I probably wouldn't have gone in if i hadn't seen some nice-looking older ladies walking in while I was trying to figure out where to park (wayyy down the road, away from all the threatening tow signs).

I bought 3 yards of this stuff, which I really loved at first sight:
Some kind of teal-ish cotton or linen with white crewel work stitch. The total came out to $9 for 3 yards!

After thinking about it a while in the store I realized this was totally the wrong fabric. It was too feminine and dainty. I put it back. I picked it up. I texted John with pictures. I decided to just spend the $9 and buy enough for one panel, just for testing purposes.

When I got home, I clipped it onto the rings...

Ok, so the pattern gets so lost in the fabric when the light shines through, and it looks like we have pastel aqua curtains. This is the opposite look of what we were going for. Whoops!

But lesson learned. And I think I have an alternate game plan...

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I've been slooowly working on the banister and spindles.

The banister needed a lot of patching and sanding. Followed by staining and polyurethan-ing (sp?). It looks very neat and clean and finished now. So it is done. Forever.

But the spindles. Oh the spindles!
I am halfway done with the them. Working very carefully to make perfectly straight lines where the banister and spindles meet.

I took this photo while doing the first coat:
Starting from the bottom --> up

The thing is, it's looking really awesome. The decision to paint everything BUT the banister was the right one. So it is worth the short-term tedium.

More photos coming soon!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kitchen dreaming...

The layout of this kitchen could almost be like our little good house kitchen...
I've been dying to tear down the wall between our dining room and kitchen to create a bar/counter area like that.

I've also been debating whether we should make the counter as a free-standing island or peninsula as the photo. I'm really liking this layout with the little "appliance garage" towards the left of the counter-top - somewhere to stash the coffee maker/toaster/blender when not in use.

We'll have to keep dreaming for a while... too many other projects to attend to!